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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

South West Presidential candidate: To be or not?

By Bayo Fasunwon


The political drama in Nigeria is bound to change with the return of the Jagaban to Nigeria, and the declaration of his intention to run for Presidency. Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a big fish in the ocean as far as politics is concerned in Nigeria. By inference to his activities and achievements, he is the most widely accepted Politician across ethnic divides. Of all politicians in Nigeria, apart from Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory, none has produced mentees and men in the corridors of power like Tinubu.

He seems to have eyes for talents, and patiently breeds men in his school of politics to glide smoothly into positions of higher power, without blemish. Since 1999, he had kept Lagos firmly under the control of his party, despite the various fierce contest to wrench it from his grip.

Tinubu in his days as the Governor of Lagos State stood his ground and fought fiercely to ensure that true federalism was in place in the country. The PDP could not forget in a hurry, a man who through his political engineering ensured that a perpetual loser in the race for Presidency, eventually emerged as the straw that broke their Camel’s back through the ingenuity of this grassroots bred politician. Irrespective of the class that people belong to in the society, Tinubu seems to hold a magic wand in discovering, moulding, transforming them, and translating such into men of timber and caliber.

Like a cat with nine lives, this great Yoruba politician had survived many onslaughts against his person and investments over the years. He survived the military hunt against his soul; the harassments of economic crime fighters, accidents, political marginalization and recently a life-threatening illness. An enigma, respected by those who hate him, is also calculative, subtle and patient in his game. When the APC seemed to marginalize him before the general elections, he did not throw tantrums nor opened his mouth in maligning vituperations. Rather, he exited until the party acknowledged his indispensability and cap in hand, strongly appealed to him to not only forgive but also fully act his role as the National Leader of the party. When the Lion of Bourdillon was given his rightful place and respect, the APC’s shaking legs were strengthened, and the result was the retention of power. But truth be told, his marginalization caused the party irredeemable losses too.  Though a committed hard-core APC chieftain, he had never shied away from telling the President and all who cared to listen about the precarious situation of the country. Often times, he had dispassionately appealed to Nigerians to bear with the government on the prevailing economic downturns of the country, but had also implored government to make necessary changes as much as possible. It was therefore no wonder that many Nigerian leaders took time to visit their great leader in faraway London, in order to see him, pledged loyalty and wished him speedy recovery. Now the Jagaban is back, well and aspiring. However,  democracy allows both the known, unknown, celebrated, and disdained run for elective offices.

One inalienable right remains that all contestants have a right to signify their interests at occupying the enviable position of the President, and should not be denied that right. However, given that politics is a game of number, and also dependent on the internal politics and democratic practice of political parties, the party remains supreme on the choice of who bears the flag of the party in national elections.

The fortunes of the South-West in national politics, since the time of independence have not been decided mostly by other ethnic groups in the country. Rather, the political destinies of Southwest leaders have often been decided by the electorate and opposing political leaders of the South West origin. Many have credited this ‘enemy from home’ situation as being one of the outcomes of the Alaafin Arole’s bow and arrow curse on the Yoruba people. The other geo-political zones seem to understand too well the uncured hypnosis of the Yoruba people and would always do anything as a catalyst to its reactionary process. Therefore, if Northern elements are pushing up other credible presidential aspirants from the South-West, caution is needed. The South-West given her embrace of education, and development-oriented ideologies have over the years produced many credible and worthy human resources that can revamp the nation. However, petty ‘pull him down’ politicking had limited their chances at the coveted seat. At this point in time, it is necessary for the political gladiators, especially of the APC, to convene a meeting of intending aspirants, and marshal a plan that would ensure that the coveted position comes to the South-West.

While Senator Bola A. Tinubu (BAT) remains a political gladiator, who understands the politics and political terrain of Nigeria seems a viable candidate, the concerns about his age and possible health gives a lot of concern to the Yorubas. While some are worried that given the presumed incapacitation of President Buhari on the same issues confronting the National leader of the APC now, others are of the opinion that late President Umaru Yar’adua situation may repeat itself therefore giving other geo-political zones the position of the President on a platter of gold. However, such expectations did not materialize concerning President Muhammadu Buhari, but age, according to him, slowed him down. Sickness and death however are natural occurrences which are not determined by age, so only God knows it all.

While some are of the opinion that BAT should maintain his position as the National Leader and give the ‘boys’ the chance to rule the nation, yours truly opines that past experiences may not dictate such. His experience of being sidelined after his efforts at installing President Buhari in power and the ‘disloyalty’ of Ambode as Governor of Lagos State may be a warning signal that certain duties can only be performed by oneself. Besides, anyone in power would have personal goals and visions, which others may not share.

However, given that the post of the President is not decided by only one political zone, it is important that parties who wish to win the elections should bear certain things in mind. One is that Nigeria citizens are looking for a President with listening ears. They want a President who understands that people suffered and are still groaning under induced economic hardships. So, an intending leader must not be such ‘whose waist would be thinner than President Buhari’s thumb’. Furthermore, any Presidential candidate must be such that given little persuasion, procure a wide acceptance from all geo-political zones. In other words, such must not be a neophyte, but one who commands respect from the three ethnic groups. Also, such must have achievable and appraisable visions for the country and her people. Drawing up programmes after winning elections have been the bane of our national development at all levels of government. Finally, the new President should not necessarily be a technocrat, but must be such with a heart of discernment to recognize and appoint able hands, with a heart for Nigeria and her people, to run government together with him.

May the elections hold as at when due, and may we have leaders in power that would turn Nigeria into a true giant of the world in development, security, and prosperity; uphold the secular freedom  of the people and allow for the practice of true federalism.

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